American activist and author (1880–1968), who, through her tireless efforts on behalf of the disabled, and the fictionalization of her early education in the classic play and film The Miracle Worker, became the most famous blind person in the world.
Lengthy 4 1/4 page typed letter signed “Helen Keller”, Arcan Ridge, Westport, Conn. letterhead, September 30, 1950, to her friend, stage actress Katharine Cornell. Signed on verso of fourth leaf, in bold purple pencil, beneath closing words of letter, concerning the death of her longtime companion, Hebert Haas, in large part:
What a beautiful heart prompted you to break into your vacation and travel all the way from Martha’s Vineyard down to Arcan Ridge for just a few hours! We are moved beyond words that you, a great Woman, devoted to elevating the stage to the highest qualities of drama and beloved by the American people, should grace with your presence the funeral of our dear friend Herbert, and pay your tribute to him as a great simple man. You have done lovely things for us in many different ways, but your last visit brought you closer to us than ever in its intimate tenderness and understanding.
Oh, Katharine, how swiftly Herbert was taken from us! The last morning I saw him on earth, we were at breakfast, and he was bright and full of life. The weather was autumnal, and he joked about it, exaggerating his chilliness to make me laugh. At half-past eight he came into my study to consult me about putting shelves into a cubby-hole for my over-flowing magazines – just one of the endless dear kindnesses he was always doing to make my work easier. The next thing I knew, Polly, speechless with sorrow, was taking me into his room, and I touched his lifeless body lying on the floor. Not once did it seem to me that Herbert himself was dead, but I was stunned, and did not realize our immeasurable loss until a short time before you arrived. Your coming was a blessing…
Teacher [Anne Sullivan] said to him before she died, ‘I leave Helen and Polly in your hands,’ and right nobly he fulfilled his trust…
After his seventeen years of unremitting service we feel like a ship without a rudder. But I am sure he has found Teacher and carried to her a triumphant record of us, and we will try to justify his confidence in our strength for renewed accomplishment.
Since Herbert is gone, we must regretfully part with Tama who has been goodness itself to us, but a colored couple, of whom we know and love the woman, Lillian, is coming here today, and we will hope for the best.
…then go up to the Mayo Clinic for our usual check-up, and from there to Berkeley, California where I shall dedicate a building that bears my name for deaf-blind children. On our return we shall attend a meeting in Connecticut during United Nations Week, and I shall in a speech salute an organization whose destiny is bound up with the peace and freedom of the world.
Accompanied by original mailing envelope.
A moving tribute to her long-time friend and companion, Herbert Haas.
Katharine Cornell (February 16, 1893 – June 9, 1974) was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer. She was born in Berlin to American parents and raised in Buffalo, New York. She was a longtime friend of Helen Keller.
Some edge wear at blank top edges, else very fine.
Provenance: Paul C. Richards, 1987.
Accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity from James Spence Authentication (JSA).